Coastal clean-up sees record public support

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 November, 2009, 12:00am

More than 2,500 volunteers from 23 schools and 40 organisations took part in this year's International Coastal Clean-up, removing some 7,000 kg of debris from Hong Kong's shorelines.

An annual event, the International Costal Clean-up is organised by the Green Council, and supported by the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong. It was held from September 19 to November 13. Broken glass topped the debris list, with 16,178 pieces collected. Broken glass is not only a threat to the local ecology, but can also injure visitors to the beaches and shorelines.

Other than broken glass, more than 3,000 bottles were collected, despite of the launch of the voluntary Glass Container Recycling Programme by the hotel sector last year.

The Green Council is urging the government to pay more attention to glass recycling. 'A more effective recycling programme should be introduced. We did pretty well in paper, plastic and tin-can recycling. Now it's time for bottles,' said project manager Thierry Chan Tak-chun of the Green Council.

Among the top 10 kinds of debris collected this year, eight were rubbish left over from beachside recreational activities.

'More than 2,700 candles, as well as a similar amount of disposal tableware were collected ... Plastic bags and styrofoam plastic boxes ranked second and third,' Chan said, adding this revealed a low level of awareness of waste disposal.

Cigarettes and the filters have ranked in the top 10 of the debris list for 19 years. The Green Group said the government should strengthen law enforcement at beaches and prosecute people for smoking offences. It said chemicals released from cigarettes into the water endanger Hong Kong's offshore marine life.

But the Green Council also noted that public support for the coastal clean-up this year showed attitudes were changing and Hongkongers were becoming more aware of the environment.

'The clean-up received overwhelming support, and we extended it for two weeks. We had a record-high number of participants, taking part in a total of 65 clean-ups. We hope to keep it up in the coming year,' said Linda Ho Wai-ping, chief executive officer of the Green Council.

The 2010 International Coastal Cleanup will begin on September 25. The council hopes even more people will take part.